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21 Apr 2015

New strategy unveiled to boost tourism from Australia (NI version)

Tourism Ireland targets +20% growth in Australian visitors

High spend and length of stay are key positives for Australia travel market

Australia offers significant potential for tourism to Northern Ireland, according to a new Tourism Ireland strategy launched today in Belfast.

The new, three-year strategy for growth sets out challenging and ambitious targets which will see the number of Australian visitors grow by +20% by the end of 2017. 

Australia is the third most important market for tourism to Northern Ireland (after GB and the United States), in terms of visitor numbers and revenue.

Key factors working in our favour to enable this growth include:
  • recent strong performance: since 2010, visitors from Australia to the island of Ireland have grown by more than +40%; in 2014, more than 180,000 Australians visited the island of Ireland. One-third of all Australian visitors include Northern Ireland in their itinerary, a higher proportion than almost every other market;
  • strong cultural affinity: we share many things with Australians, including language, heritage, our sense of humour and our love of sport (we even drive on the same side of the road!);
  • improved air access: there are twice-daily, one-stop flights now available between Australia and Ireland (via the Middle East). Australians who are visiting Great Britain and Mainland Europe can also avail of excellent connectivity from major GB and Mainland European hubs e.g. KLM’s new Amsterdam to Belfast flight opens up great opportunities through the KLM worldwide network, offering excellent connections via Amsterdam for onward travel to Belfast;
  • high value visitors: Australians are highly prized visitors as they travel throughout the year, stay longer (on average 12 nights), spend more (about £760 – almost double the average visitor spend) and visit Northern Ireland and more of the regions of Ireland (Australians like to get off the beaten track – so are more likely than other nationalities to tour more rural areas).

The Australian outbound travel market in general has seen remarkable growth in recent years. Australians took more than 14 million trips overseas in 2013; and more than one third of all those trips were made to Europe. 

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Australia has performed well for tourism to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland in recent years and the future is undoubtedly bright. We believe this is a market of considerable potential over the coming years – given that these high-spending visitors travel right throughout the year and enjoy getting off the beaten track. However, we can’t take this performance for granted; we need to adapt and respond to new opportunities to ensure that success continues. Building on the strong performance of recent years, and the increased number of one-stop flights via the Middle East, we have set challenging targets for the 2015-2017 period. I am confident that this new, focused strategy will deliver on the targets we have set for growth in Australian visitors, between now and 2017.” 

The new Tourism Ireland strategy has been developed in close co-operation with a wide range of industry partners, at home and in Australia. It has identified the opportunities which will drive accelerated growth from Australia to the island of Ireland over the coming three years.

Niall Gibbons, Diane Butler and Jim Paul, all Tourism Ireland, at the Belfast launch of Tourism Ireland's new strategy to boost tourism from Australia. 

Notes To Editors


Tourism Ireland’s new strategy has identified the various challenges and opportunities that face the island of Ireland between now and 2017. The areas which will help to deliver the ambitious growth targets include:

  • Focusing on our ‘best prospect’ audiences
    Tourism Ireland will prioritise two key audiences – ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energiser’ Australian holidaymakers – who represent the highest potential for travel here. The culturally curious tend to be discerning travellers who want to expand their horizons by exploring landscapes, heritage and culture. They are usually older, with no children at home (many are aged between 51 and 64). Social energisers are looking for new experiences in unique locations; they tend to be under 35 and don’t yet have a family (many are in their early twenties). Tourism Ireland will highlight experiences and messages that resonate strongly with both audiences, reaching them where they are most likely to be seeking travel information and advice.
  • Presenting Northern Ireland as a ‘must do’ destination in Europe
    When Australians decide to take a long-haul trip to Europe, Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland become a viable choice of destination. The next steps include: 
    (a) complementing the most popular European destinations which are the main draw for Australians. The three most popular are England, France and Italy; we do not have to compete with these destinations – but should instead seek to complement them as part of one European trip; and
    (b) competing robustly with destinations that could potentially divert Australian travellers from here. These include their second tier choices of European destinations, such as Spain and Germany; as well as similar destinations, such as Scotland and Wales. 
  • Collaborating with key partners
    Travel intermediaries are important sources of holiday inspiration – seeding ideas about potential destinations during the decision process, planning and booking. This network of influencers includes travel agents (both traditional and online), tour operators and wholesalers, as well as airlines. Tourism Ireland will collaborate with those intermediaries who have the widest distribution and most effective reach; and will encourage its Australian travel partners to refresh their Northern Ireland offering, to ensure it is more relevant to our target audiences. The organisation will provide travel agents with education and sales tools, to ensure the destination remains ‘front of mind’ for them among European destinations; and will collaborate with airlines, to further highlight ease of access and great value fares to the island of Ireland, via hubs in GB, Mainland Europe and the Middle East.
  • Strengthening our message to potential holidaymakers
    To stand out from our competitors, Tourism Ireland will position Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland as a vibrant, fun, somewhat wild place on the edge of Europe (both literally and culturally). The organisation will highlight that it’s a destination that is easy to reach; and is a low-stress, familiar place which is the ideal starting for a European trip (Australians can adjust to a different environment before travelling on to a continent with foreign languages and culture). To compete with some of the iconic attractions of other European destinations, Tourism Ireland will showcase our many unique, ‘must do’ experiences – including journeys like the Causeway Coastal Route; unmissable attractions like the Giant’s Causeway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Titanic Belfast; rural towns and villages, each with their own character; food and drink from our farms and coast, with a focus on fresh produce and innovative cuisine; as well as sport – whether as a participant or spectator.
As well as advertising and publicity through traditional media, Tourism Ireland will communicate through a range of digital platforms. Social media – including Facebook (Tourism Ireland has more than 40,000 Facebook fans in Australia and almost 3 million worldwide) and Twitter (8,500 followers in Australia) – will also be used extensively, to generate positive word-of-mouth about the destination.